Ancient Greek Hydromyths About the Submarine Transport of Terrestrial Fresh Water Through Seabeds Offshore of Karstic Regions

Cindy Clendenon

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3986/ac.v38i2-3.129

Abstract

This study examined the relationship between ancient Greek texts and the physical possibility of focused, distal flow of terrestrial fresh water through the seabed, particularly offshore of karstic coasts. The four ancient texts which were analyzed describe powerful discharges from submarine springs in the eastern Black Sea; the local transport of groundwater through the bed of Turkey’s Bay of Miletus; alleged subterranean–submarine connections between coastal western Turkey and the Greek northeast Peloponnese; and alleged connections between the coastal western Peloponnese and southeastern coastal Sicily. The plausibility or implausibility of these legends was assessed in the context of modern reports indicating that seabed pathways can transport continental fresh water up to 60 km offshore. Other reports identify fresh water in the seabed as far as 160 km offshore, presumably due to marine-induced forces. These documented cases validated ancient claims of nearshore groundwater transport and legitimized transoceanic claims as mythologized extrapolations of local karstic hydrogeology. As submarine fresh groundwater becomes increasingly important in understanding material transport and in identifying potentially exploitable coastal water supplies, ancient stories from past civilizations may give clues to offshore sites meriting further exploration.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3986/ac.v38i2-3.129

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